STUDY: Despite potential challenges, American small businesses optimistic on 2020 outlook

American small business owners are feeling optimistic about 2020 despite the uncertainty and challenges facing them. Almost nine in 10 (89 percent) are confident they will achieve their ‘main goal’ in the upcoming year.

The study of 500 US small business owners found their top objectives for 2020 include substantially increasing revenue and growth and reaching new customers. Nearly a third (30 percent) are also focused on generating repeat customers. Although more than one in 10 said the main reason they started their business was to earn more money – a sixth are yet to break even.

As a result, almost one in 10 considered this to be their main goal for 2020, although nearly a sixth are aiming to simply ‘survive the next year’. However, when asked how they are currently feeling about 2020, US business owners are most likely to say they feel confident, optimistic and motivated.

Simon Braier, Customer Strategy and Insights Director from Vistaprint said: “While political changes and economic barriers are very real challenges facing US small businesses, our research shows that these factors haven’t dampened the American entrepreneurial spirit. It’s encouraging to see small business owners’ confidence and optimism going into 2020. The better they do, the more chance they have of generating jobs for local people, giving an economic boost to their community and continuing to provide significant value to customers.”

The research also found a quarter of business owners admitted they see the upcoming year may be a ‘struggle’. This is due to more than a third predicting political change will have an effect on their business, while four in 10 think they will struggle due to bills and expenses rising. A further fifth is anxious about competitor companies opening nearby.

Despite these challenges, six in 10 small business owners admitted they don’t have a marketing plan in place for 2020, with more than half (53 percent) saying ‘everything is going fine as it is’. A sixth (17 percent) would rather just ‘see what happens’.

More than half – 51 percent – believe the most important advertising channel in the upcoming 12 months will simply be word of mouth, while almost a quarter will rely on social media. A further one in 10 thinks email marketing and search engine promotion will be most important for their business.

Vistaprint’s North American Market Director Erin Shea said: “Even if business is going well, in an increasingly competitive market small business owners cannot afford to rest on their laurels. Word-of-mouth marketing is and will likely continue to be one of the most effective forms of marketing for small businesses. But business owners should seize the opportunity to spread the word further by leveraging other offline and online channels and tactics to drive referrals.”

It also emerged that, on reflection, 95 percent of business owners are pleased they took the plunge and started their own business. For more than a third (37 percent) being their own boss was the main motivation for starting a company. This was followed by flexibility – with one in 10 wanting to decide their own hours – and to pursue a passion according to 15 percent.

Click here to see an infographic illustrating this study’s key findings.